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Reality is not yet matching rhetoric in moving from “billions to trillions” to finance the SDGs—how can we accelerate sustainable development finance?
To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world must ramp up development financing from billions to trillions of dollars. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the financing needs and made them more complex. We must think beyond aid, to private finance, and unlocking developing countries’ own resources. The roles of financiers and developing country partners in mobilizing and allocating aid needs to change so that the international community can focus not only on country-by-country development, but also on pressing shared problems, such as climate change, global health and international migration. Financing must encourage a resilient and sustainable future.
At the same time that the world is looking to scale up development financing, the development financing system is becoming more complex. There are new donors, like China and India, with different development paradigms. And the emergence of new multilateral development agencies and national development banks add resources to the mix but raise the question of whether new models of international cooperation are needed to maximize the leverage of scarce financing.
Our research focuses on five questions: How can the international financial system produce sufficient funding for recovery and sustainable development? How should it be allocated to help countries rebuild their economies, meet the SDGs and confront global challenges? How can financing most effectively mobilize private capital, safeguard public monies, and keep debt levels sustainable? How can domestic resources be mobilized within developing countries? And how should existing institutions be changed to best cooperate?
Forests provide a wealth of public services and private goods, yet forested land is being steadily converted to other uses, including cropland, pasture, mining, and urban areas, which can generate greater private economic returns. Public concern over the benefits of forests lost due to deforestation has led to a variety of deliberate policies intended to slow the rate of deforestation. These efforts benefit from research to understand what factors drive deforestation and what policies can effectively stop it.
On Wednesday, Angus Deaton published an op-ed in the New York Times that paints a compelling picture of the depth of poverty in America, and the need for more money and more policy attention to fix it. It's a sobering read, and we strongly agree that America’s most destitute deserve far more support. But in comparing US poverty to poverty in developing countries, we think he’s got his numbers wrong.
One feature of adjustment loans that has been often overlooked in their evaluation is their frequent repetition to the same country, with such extremes as the 30 IMF and World Bank adjustment loans to Argentina over 1980-99 or the 26 adjustment loans to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. Repetition changes the nature of the selection problem, with the possible implication that new loans had to be given because earlier loans were not effective. This study finds that while there were relative successes and failures, none of the top 20 recipients of adjustment lending over 1980-99 were able to achieve reasonable growth and contain all policy distortions. The findings of this paper are in line with the foreign aid literature that shows that aid does not discriminate between good and bad policies. There's a big difference between structural adjustment lending and structural adjustment policies.
Governments, donors, and public sector agencies are seeking productive ways to ‘crowd in’ private sector involvement and capital to tackle international development challenges. The financial instruments that are used to create incentives for private sector involvement are typically those that lower an investment’s risk (such as credit guarantees) or those that lower the costs of various inputs (such as concessional loans, which subsidise borrowing).